The Music School at Belhaven Hill is surely one of the largest and best equipped of any Prep School in the UK.
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The Music School
There are 8 Music Practice Rooms, each with a piano, a fully equipped Percussion Suite and a Recording Studio. There is a large Keyboard Suite with 16 new electric keyboards.
All this is in addition to the main music classroom and rehearsal space. This large room can seat over 100 people comfortably, with 60 chairs permanently set up for rehearsals. It has a large Yamaha grand piano, a stage piano, and desks for 30 pupils face the interactive whiteboard for when music theory or composing is taught.
Nearly every pupil at Belhaven learns at least one musical instrument, in addition to keyboard. It is usual for over 90% of our pupils to learn an instrument with one of our visiting musicians. Several have lessons in two instruments, some even three or four. Lessons are available in: Piano, Voice, Strings, Woodwind, Chanter, Bagpipes, Pipe Band Drumming, Guitar and all Percussion instruments.
There are ten Visiting Music Teachers, many of whom are in school several days a week. The Music School is a very busy place throughout the day, from early morning practice at 7.30am through to the evenings at 8.30pm. The vast majority of pupils are entered for public music exams with the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music. These are taken in our Music School three times a year.
Every pupil is taught weekly keyboard lessons (music performance) as part of the curriculum. They follow a Keyboard Skills Course from Form 6 through to Form 1. On completing the Gold Level Certificate the pupils have a performance level of a basic pass at GCSE before they leave us. This is in addition to their own chosen instrument in which they have individual tuition, and of course for many, the experience of singing as a Chorister.
Listening skills are developed regularly and pupils follow a curriculum from Form 8 in Pre-Prep through to our leavers at the aged of 13.
Composition is a major part of our curriculum in the Music School. In the very early years they are encouraged to create their own sounds, and by the end of Pre-Prep they are able to compose and notate basic rhythms. In the Prep School this is developed considerably and by the age of 9 pupils are capable of writing their own melodies and then add chords to the melody.
At age 11 they are expected to compose developed melodies in a number of keys including sequences and with chords and cadences.
At the time of leaving Belhaven, pupils can compose full and complete pieces of music for a variety of instruments. These are in difference forms, in several keys, and adding different piano accompaniments to their structured melodies. Their composition exam at the aged of 13 is that of GCSE standard. This prepares our children to have full access to the Music GCSE when they leave us.
At Belhaven there are numerous ways in which a child can perform, either individually or as part of a music group.
Weekly music groups include our Belhaven Choristers, Pipe Band, Chanter Group, Guitar Band, Strings Group, Girls’ Choir, Boys’ Choir, a School Choir consisting of Choristers and boys' and girls' choirs in which nearly every single child in the school is involved.
There are weekly opportunities to perform in assemblies, at which a traditional hymn is sung, three times a week. Our Friday assembly begins with a solo piper and drummer every week, for which the children work to a rota to perform, and there is occasionally an anthem sung by one of our choirs.
The Pipe Band perform regularly at school events and functions, and always at our Sunday morning services, either in school or at the local churches in Dunbar. They have also performed widely in East Lothian including several venues in Edinburgh, including the Royal Mile. Our Corp of Drums are very popular here at Belhaven, consisting of 16 or so drummers with their own repertoire. Our award-winning and acclaimed Belhaven Choristers lead the Sunday worship in the local churches with a full Eucharist Setting and an Anthem. They have travelled widely and have sung in ten different Cathedrals since their formation in 2021.
The annual Mansfield Music Cup is a competition between the four Patrols and is always one of the many highlights of the year. Every child in the school is involved. There are many other regular concerts and services including the extremely popular traditional Carol Services, a Spring Concert and a fine Summer Concert, in which nearly every pupil is involved. Other informal concerts take place throughout the year including a Friday Recital Series on Weekends Out.
|2019 - 2020||
Alexander D Piping to Fettes
Calypso R to Stowe
Wilfred T Piping to Fettes
|2020 - 2021||
Archie J Singing, Pipes & Piano to Ampleforth
Kit R Singing & Pipes to Ampleforth
Robyn M Singing & Piano to Glenalmond
Harry H to Sedbergh
|2021 - 2022||
Grace C-B to Fettes
Hugo J Drums & Singing to Sedbergh
Henry S to Loretto
Walter C to Rugby
|2022 - 2023||
Lily H to Glenalmond
Willow F to Glenalmond
Ted H Music & Drumming to Strathallan